Nestled in India’s northeastern Assam district, Kaziranga National Park contains the world’s highest density of the endangered Asian One-Horned rhino. But this troubled area, long plagued by civil unrest, is also ground zero for poaching and illegal trade of rhino horn. To help combat this, Kaziranga Park has become the poster child for a hard-line style of conservation that includes a harsh “shoot on sight” policy.
Yet even the threat of death isn’t discouraging poaching these days. 2014 slaughter numbers were the highest they’ve been in years, thanks to the tens of thousands of dollars that rhino horn now fetches on the black market. Kaziranga’s rhino population is in crisis.
Pained by watching the slaughter of this iconic creature in his own backyard, journalist Uttam Saikia decided to take action against poaching. He used his contacts to develop a network of informants that could provide park authorities with intelligence about planned hunts. He also used his trusted status in this community to act as a mediator between the parks department, and local poachers who are wishing to surrender their arms and return to mainstream society. One of his past successes has even gone on to become a park guard, now protecting the rhino that he used to hunt. But as hard as he works to reform poachers, Uttam worries that without alternate means of income that many of these impoverished villagers will just return to this profitable trade.
The effects of poaching reach far and wide in the animal kingdom, too. Many slaughtered rhinos have left behind young calves who will undoubtedly die, unless someone intervenes. A final focus of KAZIRANGA is the Center for Conservation and Wildlife Rehabilitation. This animal sanctuary takes in abandoned baby animals from around the park, oftentimes having been orphaned because their parent was killed. We learn the tragic story of one baby rhino that witnessed the murder of her mother.
Overall, KAZIRANGA will examine the various causes and effects of poaching in one small region of the world, in the hope of offering insight into the poaching epidemic that is sweeping the globe today. If something systemic doesn’t change soon - if the consciousness of those who consume endangered species products isn’t altered - then time will inevitably run out for species like the rhino.
TO HELP ANTI-POACHING EFFORTS AROUND KAZIRANGA, PLEASE VISIT AND DONATE TO:
ASIAN RHINO PROJECT: http://www.asianrhinos.org.au/
DAVID SHEPHERD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION: http://davidshepherd.org
INTERNATIONAL RHINO FOUNDATION: http://www.rhinos.org/
INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE: http://www.ifaw.org/
WILDLIFE TRUST OF INDIA: http://www.wti.org.in/
Produced and Directed by:
Original Music by:
Additional Footage Provided by:
Sandesh Kadur/Felis Creations
Funding Provided by:
Asian Rhino Foundation
International Documentary Association